As part of the coverage of today's SAP BusinessSuite 7 launch, I ran a CoveritLive session designed to add in live comment from those on the ground, like our own Larry Dignan, myself on the slightly flaky live webcast and others interested in the topic. A LOT of people contributed via Twitter messages, all of which added color and flavor, especially from the SAP Mentors who live with this stuff every day. Alongside this, SAP ran an Adobe Connect session for SAP Mentors [disclosure, I'm a SAP Mentor but not remunerated.) This was followed by a SAP Mentor specific session where SAP execs were grilled about what this means for customers and projects. So on transparency, SAP scores very well and 'our' ability to use low or no cost software to capture thoughts in real time changes the way events are being reported.
During the main session, fellow Irregular Vinnie Mirchandani asked: "I've not heard iPhone, cloud computing or saas. Don't these figure?" For me that was the money shot question given that earlier reports seemed to be confusing the new release with on-demand.Here is a screenshot from part of the CiL conversation:
As you can see, the conversation was lively but more impoirtant were the insights coming from customers like Roche which is saying that iPhone for example is not really suitable for business. On cloud computing issues, I'm surprised the company is so defensive.
Leo Apotheker, SAP's CEO said they are undertaking research in this area but beyond that had almost nothing to say. OK - so 'cloud computing' is the latest big issue fashion topic but the benefits of reduced cost of ownership alone are enough to interest customers.
In the SAP Mentor discussion, a number of people thought that since SAP's customers are among some of the largest businesses in the world, then there is an expectation they will run 'private' cloud environments. Regardless, this is not a discussion from which SAP can fight shy forever.
On saas, SAP is still defensive. Apotheker's answer was anything but convincing, talking about different consumption and delivery models. As one person quipped: "Same position just longer answers." What made it even more poignant was the fact IBM was on the discussion panel and they are moving very quickly with cloud computing, on-demand and other fashionable technologies. On stage it looked like the ever cautious SAP on one side and the more gung ho IBM (sic), Roche and Colgate-Palmolive on the other.
Despite all the jocularity in the Twitterverse, there are serious questions to be answered. As I suspected and had confirmed elsewhere, BusinessSuite 7 has a lot in it but essentially, it is a repackaging of past products with enhancements that allow customers to choose the pace at which they make change.
If SAP is able to deliver on that it will have demonstrated genuine value. However, the old specter of regression testing - which can be an incredibly expensive process - doesn't go away any time soon. That means if customers are in heavily customized environments, they will have some serious calculations to do for figuring out time to value.
And as a final note, for anyone interested in knowing what it looks like driving all these services for this type of event, here's my desktop part way through the show. Impressed? Sheesh - I felt like some crazed DJ spinning records at a rave party.